How to Knead Dough: Learn Your Culinary Basics

How to Knead Dough: Learn Your Culinary Basics

Cooking is a therapeutic and often frustrating process. Such is its duality, as making food from scratch can be very calming for some but annoying and messy for others. If you are an experienced cook, you understand the necessities of certain processes in a kitchen, regardless of whether they are easy or not, like kneading. In a kitchen, kneading is required in almost every dish that has flour dough as a base or as a component. Whether it is bread, pizza dough, short-crust pastry dough, or flatbread dough, knowing how to knead dough is a basic life skill that every independent individual should know. Knowing how to knead is the first step to being a self-sufficient cook, and it helps make the cooking process easy and breezy!

In this article, we shall learn about kneading dough by hand, along with several dough-kneading techniques, the challenges one faces while kneading, and other ways of kneading you can adopt apart from hand-kneading your dough.

How to Knead Dough by Hand

There are several ways to knead dough by hand, some of the most popular ways which we shall be discussing below.

  • Indian Way: If you have grown up in an Indian household, you will know that there is no hard and fast way to knead dough the Indian way. We have seen our grandmothers and mothers knead the dough by turning the process into play! You can pummel the dough much like a prize wrestler would with his opponent, thoroughly manhandle it, and even throw it on the work surface! But this is good for your dough. The quick and aggressive motions enable quicker development of gluten, and help create a strong crosslinking of gluten fibers in the dough, which would lead to a firm, elastic, and supple dough, all in a matter of a few minutes! The Indian way is simply a faster and more homegrown version of the stretch and fold technique of kneading dough, which has been mastered and turned into an art by homemakers over the years.
  • French Fold: The French fold is a method of kneading bread and soft, enriched pastry dough. In this method, you do not flour your work surface and stick one end of the dough to the work surface, by simply dropping it in one position. Then, you pull one end of the dough and stretch it in the opposite direction of the other end that is stuck to the work surface. Following this, you shall fold the stretched portion of the dough back over the portion on the work surface, creating a fold much like a book. Pick up the dough, turn it clockwise, and repeat this process until you have a soft, smooth, and supple dough.
  • Stretch and Fold: The stretch and fold method of kneading dough is the most common method of kneading any kind of bread or flatbread dough. You take your dough, stretch it from one side to promote gluten development, and fold it back over into the dough ball. Keep repeating this process until your dough is firm, has a good level of elasticity, and bounces back to the touch.

Challenges While Kneading Dough by Hand

  • Over-kneading vs. Under-kneading: When kneading dough by hand, it is very important to not over-knead or under-knead your dough. Over-kneading could result in a dough with too much gluten development, and make it rubbery and dense when baked. Conversely, under-kneading your dough could lead to a dough with not enough gluten development, which would lead to an end product that doesn't cook evenly and an unmanageable dough.
  • Sticky Dough: A sticky dough is a part and parcel of the kneading process, and often, makes the process of kneading messy and unmanageable. Sticky doughs could mean too much moisture, or not enough kneading, leading to weak gluten development in a dough. Depending on the recipe and the percentage of moisture in the dough, the consistency of the dough may vary. Most doughs have less than 65% moisture, which means that if they are sticky, they may need an addition of extra flour or some extra kneading. If the dough has over 75% moisture content, like in certain breads like babka, then a sticky dough means you are on the right track, and it will give you the right result.
  • Physical Challenges: Kneading dough by hand is often a strenuous process, especially when kneading large quantities of dough, and it may cause hand fatigue or back pain due to improper posture. These problems can be delta by either using alternative methods to knead your dough, which we shall be exploring in the next section, or by ensuring you are alternating between hands while kneading and are maintaining proper posture, and using a proper kneading technique to prevent strain.

Other Ways of Kneading Dough

As discussed above, hand-kneading your dough can be a tiring process, especially if you are making dough in large quantities. However, there are several easy and automated options you can choose to knead your dough with ease, some of which are listed below.

  • Rotimatic: Automated roti makers like the Rotimatic make the process of kneading completely easy. All you have to do is put in flour, water, and oil in the designated compartments, choose the number of rotis you want, the levels of roasting, softness, and thickness you want with the help of an interactive smart screen, and click start! The Rotimatic kneads the dough, forms it into individual dough balls, and gives you perfectly shaped, delicious rotis, all in 90 seconds! 

Make rotis effortlessly anytime you want with Rotimatic’s Automated technology.


  • Stand Mixer with Dough Hook: Kneading dough in stand mixer setups is also a popular way of kneading dough with less effort. All you have to use is a dough hook and the result is a supple and firm dough, in less time as compared to kneading dough yourself. You shall know your dough is done kneading in a dough hook mixer when it stops sticking to the mixing bowl and clears the sides. One disadvantage of kneading dough with dough hook attachments is that you may end up over-kneading your dough, so you have to be careful with the amount of time the machine is running and keep observing the consistency and texture of your dough.
  • Food Processor: One of the fastest methods of forming dough is using a food processor with a plastic blade attachment. The blade prompts gluten development, and will not tear the dough due to the dull edges of the blade. This process will give you a fully formed dough in a matter of mere minutes, and you will create less mess as you are using only one piece of equipment for assembling the ingredients and the kneading process. One disadvantage could be over-kneading or improper gluten development due to heat caused due to friction in the food processor, hence, you have to be very careful about the amount of time you pulse the food processor while the dough is being formed.